January 27, 2023

When Sally Met Harry

Written by Paulette Bourgeois
Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
North Winds Press (Scholastic Canada)
32 pp.
Ages 2-8
January 2023

Whether you're an adult, a child or a dog, change can be difficult. Even when the status quo is challenging, it's familiar. But when the norm is wonderful, filled with love and attention, adoration and praise, change can be especially effortful, as Sally a goldendoodle learns.
I was a bundle of absolute puppy adorableness.
Sally can do no wrong. She sleeps on their bed, chases squirrels, plays and is cuddled. Even when she does do something inappropriate, like getting into their underwear, chewing it and getting sick, she is consoled with, "Poor baby." And then Sally learns that her people are having a baby. 
From When Sally Met Harry by Paulette Bourgeois, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan
Immediately after Harry arrives, Sally knows things are going to change. She lets herself out when her people are too engrossed with the noisy baby.  Sure, she gets a blanket and a new squeaky squirrel, but Harry gets a giant red bunny! And when Sally tries to show affection for Harry as she would her own pup, they yell at her to get away and she is told, "No." Now Sally has a dog walker, and she sleeps in a basket because Harry sleeps with them. 
From When Sally Met Harry by Paulette Bourgeois, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan
Though Sally tries to think of a way to make her people love her again, she really doesn't have to do anything special. Sally's specialness comes through with the simplest of acts and makes Harry realize that Sally is part of his loving family.
I look deep into Harry's eyes.
I let him know that I love him.
From When Sally Met Harry by Paulette Bourgeois, illus. by Brooke Kerrigan
Many will recognize the name of Paulette Bourgeois as the author of the Franklin the Turtle series but it's obvious she knows more than turtles. She knows babies and children and dogs. She knows the confusion of a new baby in a home with a pet who has been the only "child" and used to getting all the attention and love. But, Paulette Bourgeois, a grandmother herself, also probably knows about finding a way to make all feel appreciated and loved–which will be all the more important when Baby #2 comes along–while bringing seemingly unconnected family members to becoming part of the whole. Telling the story from Sally's perspective, feeling what she does, hearing from others, and seeing for herself, Paulette Bourgeois makes Sally the star of When Sally Met Harry and restores her place of importance when we all know that a helpless baby must become the center of his parents' attention, at least for a time. And then when that baby is a toddler and can be a little brother to big sister Sally, the family circle is complete again.

That sweetness of story and familial bonding comes through in Brooke Kerrigan's illustrations. Rendered in watercolour, pencil crayon and gouache on paper before digitally enhanced, the artwork screams cuteness. From the playful and loving Sally to the cherubic Harry–look at that round head!–and all the little details of toys, squirrels, cats, and other dogs, When Sally Met Harry depicts many a household in which a baby is introduced to a family pet. Still, with Paulette Bourgeois's words and Brooke Kerrigan's illustrations, When Sally Met Harry tells the story of a one-of-a-kind relationship that could earn a cinematic rendering of its own.

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